If the Keller softball team is going to win a third straight state championship, it will do so with a new head coach.
Christina Gywn-Barton was named as the new head coach of the back-to-back and defending state champions by the school principal, Dr. Michael Nasra and athletic director Bob DeJonge on Wednesday.
If the name seems familiar in relation to the Keller softball program, it’s because Gwyn-Barton is a former standout at Keller, pitching on the 2002 and 2003 Lady Indians squads. Keller won its first state championship in 2003.
“We are truly excited to reunite Christina Gwyn-Barton back to the Keller Indian softball family,” DeJonge said. “Her journey back to Keller has led her to some outstanding experiences as a player and a coach, all preparing her to lead what many feel is the No. 1 softball program in the state.”
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My senior year at Keller, it was a culture we created of fun and excitement. We were more excited to see others succeed. I want to build on that tradition but allow the kids to create their own. It’s a philosophy of collaborating with the girls.
Christina Gwyn-Barton, former Keller standout and new head coach
Gwyn-Barton steps in for Bryan Poehler, who led Keller for the last three seasons as head coach after being an assistant for the previous five years.
“(Poehler) and the girls accomplished so much in a short period of time,” DeJonge said of the last three years. “While he’s resigned to pursue new opportunities, we will always be grateful for his passion and leadership.”
Gwyn-Barton said she jumped at the opportunity to return home. “It’s an honor,” she said of coming back to Keller.
Gwyn-Barton comes to Keller from Little Elm, where she served two years and as head coach last season, led the Lady Lobos to their first postseason appearance since 2014 with a record of 24-9-2. Prior to her role at Little Elm, Gwyn-Barton was the assistant softball coach at McKinney Boyd from 2012-2014 before taking a year off to have a family, Nasra said.
Gwyn-Barton inherits a stacked roster, losing only three starters from last season’s state championship team. She admits there’s a bit of pressure to keep the momentum going but it’s also just a great situation for any coach to step into.
Her coaching philosophy was shaped, in part, by her days in the circle at Keller.
“My senior year at Keller, it was a culture we created of fun and excitement. We were more excited to see others succeed. I want to build on that tradition but allow the kids to create their own. It’s a philosophy of collaborating with the girls,” Gwyn-Barton said. “I want to work together to make them the most successful.”
At Keller, Gwyn-Barton went 46-10 (14-6 in 2002, 32-4 and 19 shutouts in 2003). In that time, she struck out 586 batters and had an 0.42 ERA across almost 370 innings. Also solid at the plate, she hit .349 with six home runs.
After graduating from Keller, Gwyn-Barton played a year at Texas before transferring to Brigham Young.
During her senior campaign at BYU, Gwyn-Barton broke many pitching records as well as tossing the first no-hitter in BYU history. She broke all the school strikeout records during her senior year in 2008. She is in the top 10 in every career and season pitching category, including the top spots for strikeouts per seven innings in a career (419) and season (245). In each of her two seasons, she pushed the Cougars to the NCAA regionals.
That experience helped shape Gwyn-Barton’s coaching philosophy.
“I’m passionate about bridging high school and college play,” she said. “I want them to walk out and make an immediate impact on their college teams.”
In the coming weeks, Gwyn-Barton will be meeting with school and athletic department staff and will host a meet-and-greet for players and parents in mid-July.
Gwyn-Barton is married to Alexander Barton and has two children, Brooklyn, 6, and Aidan, 3.